Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Sunday defended the Obama administration’s refusal to use terms such as “radical Islam” when talking about the Islamic State terrorist organization and other militant groups.
Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Mr. Johnson said it matters very little what terms are used to describe the Islamic State — also known as ISIS or ISIL — and that the focus should be on how to defeat the group, not what it is called.
“From my perspective, whether it is referred to as Islamic extremism or violent extremism, what it comes down to is ISIL is a terrorist organization that represents a serious potential threat to our homeland that has to be addressed militarily and through a whole-of-government approach,” he said.
Mr. Johnson’s comments come just days after a White House summit on countering “violent extremism.” Throughout that summit, administration officials, including President Obama, would not use terms such as “radical Islam.”
By not using such terms, Mr. Johnson said, the administration avoids giving terrorist fighters the “dignity” they seek.
“It seems to me that to refer to ISIL as occupying any part of the Islamic theology is playing on a battlefield that they would like us to be on. I think that to call them some form of Islam gives the group more dignity than it deserves,” he said.